With our first backpacking stint having begun just over a week ago we thought we would share with you a check list we made when we were organising our trip. Backpacking for the first time can be an intimidating prospect and despite all our excitement we were also often overcome with what we needed to do before we could set off! Part of why we wanted to set this blog up was to make more people realise that if this is a dream of theirs then it can still become a reality…we have a mortgage and had full time jobs for many years! So part of that is taking you through our process!
Check out our packing list here:
Packing can be a double edged sword, you have a huge bag and yet you are travelling long term! How much do you bring, how much is enough and what is too little! It really just is a learning curve and checking out other peoples packing lists really helped us. Often when we have travelled carry on only in the past we have packed everything up and then gone back and re-evaluated everything we put in the bag once again!
What to do before you set off!
Sometimes you just want to pack up and leave…which is great because we think you should travel NOW rather than putting it off. But then again it helps if you have a few weeks to make sure you have everything organised and in order to make sure that your trip of a lifetime goes as smoothly as it can!
Our check list:
Check your route and which visas you need, also if you need to apply in advance or if you can get them on arrival via your method of transport! Sometimes it can differ if you fly in or go via road.
Sort your banks out/ budget –
Pay off your debts, Get your savings in order and in a high interest account, Set up a few separate accounts to keep your money safe and give you a back up. Research Credit Cards or accounts that don’t charge for foreign usage and maybe even earn you rewards. It would also be handy to set out a budget from the beginning to stick to, you can alway reevaluate this as you go.
Scan your documents and take copies as well as saving them online. Have your insurance documents saved somewhere and contact details for them and your banks handy. Give your parents or someone at home all your information/ bank account details incase you need emergency money and insurance details incase they need to contact them on your behalf. Take note of the serial numbers of your gadgets too and keep the receipts.
Photos and docs –
Set up cloud storage for photos and documents so that if your laptop gets stolen or damaged you don’t loose your priceless photos and important information. You can also use hard drives or even better memory sticks (less likely to get damaged) to keep an extra back up or in between cloud uploads if you don’t have access to the internet.
Book first bits of accommodation and transport –
Of course you won’t be able to book everything before you go and neither should you. Part of the appeal with long term travel is the idea that you can change plans at the drop if a hat and have the freedom to go where ever you want. But when you first arrive on this crazy adventure you will be way out of your comfort zone. Booking your first few places to stay and methods of transport will make getting used to this new lifestyle so much easier. Most people then book or organise their next accommodation a few days in advance as they travel.
You can also sign up to websites like Couchsurfing, Workaway and housesitting and start building up contacts or speaking to potential hosts too!
Plan a rough route /scope out main places you want to see –
Again, you don’t need to stick to your route religiously and the fun of backpacking is how easily we can change our route. But especially on your first time it is ideal to have a rough idea of your route. That way you can do some research before you go and as you are travelling as well as seeing which cities are the easiest to transit between or organise meeting up with family and freinds along the way!
Roughly plan a time scale if you need it –
If you have an idea of your route then you will also be able to estimate how long the route will take you. I know as a first time backpacker making a rough plan helps when you have certain events you want to visit or deadlines (such as working tourist visa in AUS before Shorty’s 31st birthday). See our plans here: UK to NZ… Our epic overland adventure & new life starting in 2016
Travel Insurance/ Gadget cover/ EU health card if applicable –
Travel insurance is so important and so is getting the right cover. Never skip this cost because in the unlikely event of you needing it, not having it could cause real health and finance problems. Make sure you look out for backpackers insurance and disclose any health issues you have had. Also be aware that some of the adventure activities you want to take part in whilst away might not be covered. We choose to get general backpackers cover and then take out specialist cover for the days we will be taking part in high risk activities with Insure and Go. We also took out extra gadget cover which was available for items up to £1000 with Alpha. Also remember that if you are an EU citizen and travelling within Europe you should apply for your free of charge European Health Insurance Card or your insurance might in invalid. This card entitles you to medical assistance at the same cost as locals.
Research which vaccines you need for the region you will be travelling in, sometimes these vaccines are needed for your visas and insurance too. Don’t skimp on these either, it could save your life! But also bear in mind sometimes your doctor will advise some vaccines that are just precautionary where as others are necessary. Do some research to see which is which. Also make sure that if you need medication that you have it covers, this also includes contraceptions which you can get implanted to last you up to 3 years.
Check expiry date on passport/ ID –
Make sure your documents are up to date and also have a good few years to spare. Many countries require you to have at least 6 months validity left. Best to air on the side of caution and apply for a new passport if you are worried about the date or condition.
Set up a blog –
Blogging can be an awesome way of letting your freinds and family follow your travels and see what you have done and where you are. They are easy to set up and you never know, you might just start to earn some money of it one of these days too!
Get a journal –
On such an amazing and life changing trip you need to make sure that your inner most thoughts, feelings and experiences are recorded for the future in your personal journal!
Research activities you want to do and who can do them with/ contact –
We love adventure activities but many of these amazing things need to be researched and booked in advance, even if you do it as you travel. It is a good idea to research the best places to do them in, where to base yourself and who you should be contacting in order to make sure you get these bucket list adventures ticked off!
Make sure everything at home taken care of –
If you are like us and have a house to rent out or other responsibilities then that doesn’t mean you can’t travel, but it does mean you have a bit more organising to do!! Put everything in place beforehand and I can guarantee you will be far less stressed and more able to concentrate on your amazing adventures when you are out there! It also helps to leave others in charge too, for example, we have allowed my parents full control over the house too for when we are uncontactable.
Ask people who have done it before that you know/ bloggers / ask questions –
You’re not the first and you won’t be the last to go backpacking! So use them as a resource, message them, phone or email them! Most people who have been travelling love to talk about it and will love to give you advice and help you out! Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Blogs are also a great way to get some priceless tips and most bloggers will be more than willing to answer your questions too!
Get some awesome apps for your phone to help you out –
One of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal is our mobile phones. These days they are so useful for booking flights, checking out hostels, seeing what there is to do in a city or getting in contact with your family for free. We recently complied a list of our favourite ones here: Ultimate List of Best phone Apps For Travel!
What do you make sure you have covered before you set off?
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